:D :p :)
Emoticions are the souls of chatters.
Their very essence can be summed up with ":)" or ":".
They are simple, concise, and can be used when you're too lazy to type "That's funny" or "That's lame" but of course, those phrases are now considered awkward compared to the all-mighty emoticons.
Hail the emoticons! Hail!
The origin is over here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon#Creation_of_:.29_and_:.28.
But that's not what I wanted to demystify, I wanted to talk about the different variations and their connotations. You see, I eventually found out that emoticons like ":)" and "=)" have very very subtle differences, and unless someone documents them, they'll be lost forever!
So here's my Emoticon Encyclopedia (I'll edit this periodically as think of emoticons):
": - )" - The grandaddy of all emoticons, originally used to denote jokes has now since passed away, replaced by its more common variants, the "=)" and ":)".
":-(" - The grandmother of all emoticons, originally used to denote things that aren't jokes but serious. This emoticon has since also passed away and been replaced by its more common variants, the "=(" and ":(".
":)"- Used to denote happiness but to a lesser extent I believe that because of the short length of the 'eyes', this particular emoticon could be less powerful or have less influence than the "=)".
Originated from the ": - )".
"=)"- Used to denote happiness but also it creates an image of slit like eyes instead of classic round eyes to give an impression of increased attention.
":(" - Used to denote sadness. The round eyes here create an image of pinpoint lasers aiming at you, burning through you.
"=(" - Used to denote sadness. The slit-like eyes are like hollow tubes here, empty of emotion, making the reader fell worse.
(I'll try to add more as I have time)